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How can I recognize if a person is good subject for hypnosis?

How can I recognize if a person is good subject for hypnosis?


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Which behavior/personality traits should I look for?


Despite quite of lot of research looking for personality correlates of hypnotisability no very clear links have been found. There is evidence of weak associations between hypnotisability and absorption (the capacity to direct a great deal of attention to a narrow range of stimuli, such as getting caught up in film or book) and also of associations between hypnotisability and fantasy-proneness (the tendency to engage in imaginative activity) - but neither of these characteristics has much practical predictive value.

Instead, in scientific hypnosis, rather than using indirect personality measure to identify hypnotisable participants, researchers use measures specifically designed to measure hypnotisability. The most common measures are the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotisability and the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale. Both of these are behavioural measures that consist of an induction followed series of simple hypnotic suggestions (e.g., your arm will heavy). Following the suggestions participants are scored as passing or failing each suggestion based on whether they meet a specific criteria (i.e., did they drop their arm more than 6 inches). The more items they pass, the higher their hypnotisability.

So in summary: personality cannot reliably predict hypnotisability. To tell if someone is susceptible, the best way is to see how they respond to hypnotic items.


Instead of looking for personality traits, we can conduct some explicit visualization tests:

  • make two fists, bring hands together making thumbs and knuckles touching itselves, extend index fingers, pick any spot and focus attention on it, breathe and exhale slowly and deeply three times and close eyes, imagine that tips of fingers are magnetized and are being drawn closer and closer together and magnetic attraction is growing stronger and stronger until soon they actually touch

  • extend both of the arms straight out that the palms of hands are facing each other and thumbs pointing to the ceiling, turn left hand palm to the ceiling, take spot at thumb on right hand, breathe and exhale slowly and deeply three times and close eyes, imagine that there is a thick, heavy book in the palm of left hand causing the hand to feel heavier and heavier, being pushed all the way down; imagine a string tied around right wrist, string connected to giant balloon filled with helium gas gently drawing arm higher and higher into the air so soon arm will be pointing straight up into the air

Hypnotists always look for vesiculated motion - not a smooth motion, but tugged and jerked one.

Anthony Galie - https://youtu.be/I2EhK9itRME?t=12m47s
David Lion - https://www.facebook.com/lionismtv/videos/1182427528493167/


1. Induction Process – Hypnotizing Your First Subject With The ABS Formula

In order to put someone into a hypnotic trance, you have to be able to do 3 things:

  • Get their attention
  • Bypass their conscious mind
  • Tap into their unconscious mind

Do those 3 things, and your subject will enter a hypnotic trance. And then once you’ve got them in a hypnotic trance – you can begin the change work process, for example, by giving hypnotic suggestions.

When starting out, one of the easiest ways you can achieve this is by using the ABS Formula. So let’s break the ABS formula down into its constituent parts to see how it works:


The Truth About Hypnosis and Memory

I had a memory of visiting Alcatraz as a child. It turned out it was a false memory

I've always been sceptical of the idea of 'repressed' or 'recovered' memories, partly due to a story of my own which I'll tell you in a moment.

Some people think hypnosis can be used to 'find out what happened' in a person's past when they don't already know.

There are three assumptions here:

  1. That hypnosis is a reliable way of accessing memories you don't currently have
  2. That 'repressed' memories are common
  3. That 'uncovering' what happened somehow cures the problem.

Before we get going, in case you don't read any further, let me tell you this: I think you should steer clear of any therapist who claims they can help you by 'uncovering' memories.

Why? Because they are working from an outmoded, unscientific, and potentially very dangerous false premise.

But let's start with that true, but false, story of mine.

My golden memory

I had a memory of something that never was.

My memory seemed real. Had I been pressed, even in a court of law, I would have sworn it was true.

I had a clear snapshot memory of being 14, on holiday with my parents in San Francisco. In my mind I was standing on the Golden Gate Bridge, looking out over the bay at the infamous island jail of Alcatraz.

I told people for years I'd been to San Fran. Only I hadn't. I wasn't lying - just mistaken.

I happened to mention this memory to my mother 20 years after the (non-)event. She looked at me curiously and said, "We went to LA and San Diego, but we never went to San Francisco. What are you talking about?" Not satisfied, I sought backup from my dad and sister - who both confirmed we hadn't gone to San Fran!

Was I crazy? I remembered it. didn't I?

Implanted memories are not just science fiction

Fortunately, lots of good research on the unreliability of memory has been done, 1 which makes me feel somewhat less weird about my own self-created memory.

In a now famous study that became known as the 'Lost in The Mall Experiment', it was found that memories of an experience which never took place, namely, being lost in a shopping mall, could be implanted in the minds of young children. 2 What's more, the memory could be long lasting.

I even found a video on Youtube in which the subject of such an experiment describes a vivid memory of being lost in a shopping mall, which, as we know, never happened. The researchers managed to 'implant' this memory by having Chris' family write journal entries in which they described this event alongside other, real events, then having Chris read these journals.

So what made people conduct this seemingly strange research? Well, it was done because something really worrying had started to happen.

Ignorant therapeutic practice can ruin lives

The 1990s saw a growing mania in therapy to 'recover' memories, and many lawsuits stemming from the resulting accusations. 3,4,5 Therapists who assumed that present-day emotional difficulties could only signify suppressed past childhood abuse would sometimes lead their clients with assumptive language, eventually leading the client to also assume they had suffered past abuse. Past abuse which may never have happened.

People tend to recall most of what happened to them, especially if it was awful as what I describe in this piece.

There is little evidence that people repress or 'bury' terrible memories, nor that 'recovering' them will magically solve current problems. 6 Alarmingly, a 2007 study found that when clients suddenly recalled previously non-existent memories during therapy, the account was less likely to have any corroborating evidence than if the memories had been recalled without any 'help'. 7

But I want to make one thing clear.

If a person has always had a memory, there is little reason to doubt them

We should always assume that people who recall terrible things happening to them, when they've always had those memories, aren't mistaken. But we should be wary of memories that never existed before 'coming up' during psychotherapy, especially when there is no corroborating evidence.

A therapist needs to understand how memory works in the mind but also how language can shape both expectation and experience. It's amazing how even the subtlest nuances of language can mould memory, as this next example clearly shows.

Was it a smash, or a bump? How language shapes memory

Researcher Elizabeth Loftus found that language can shape memory. 8 In her experiments, subjects were shown films of motor vehicle accidents then asked to answer questions about them.

Questions such as "How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?" resulted in research subjects overestimating the speed at which the vehicles had been travelling compared with when words like bumped or collided were used.

When retested a week later, participants were asked "Did you see the broken glass?" Those who had been exposed to the word smashed were much more likely to say "yes" even though there had been no broken glass.

Language can shape experience and also create, or at least greatly mould, memory. Therapists, particularly those who have been trained in the 'recovered memory' ideology, may ask leading questions or use unwitting presuppositions. They may use words like 'uncomfortable', 'painful', or even 'traumatic' when the client hasn't used these words.

Using hypnosis to try to 'uncover' memories is even more dangerous because of the creativity and suggestibility that occur during the hypnotic trance state.

And that goes double for traumatic memories.

Why post-traumatic stress disorder is not a condition of memory suppression

If you go along to a practitioner for help dealing with a painful memory you have always had, that's one thing. But going along because they have offered to help you 'find out why' you have difficulties is another.

We evolved to recall painful memories in order to avoid such situations in the future. This isn't to say that suppression of painful memories is impossible, or that something terrible didn't happen to someone when they were so young they hadn't yet started forming memories, 9 or that we can't fail to lay down memories when we are extremely drunk. 10 But it is to say that post-traumatic stress disorder is not a condition of memory suppression. It's a condition of too much and too vivid recall, in which the past feels present.

When we are traumatized, the stress we experience can be so extreme that the memory is laid down in the amygdala, the part of the brain that produces the fight-or-flight or terror response. What's more, it stays 'locked' in this part of the brain (instead of the parts that house less-emotional memories) as a survival pattern, ready to reactivate at even the faintest reminder of the original, triggering incident.

The problem isn't one of too little or no memory, but of too much, too often. In fact, traumatic memory can feel so strong it's almost like a regression back to the original trauma.

I recall working with a survivor of World War II who wanted help processing a traumatic memory of an horrific military experience that had plagued him for 50 years. Whenever he spontaneously recalled it, he said, it felt like he was "right back there," "reliving" it. Traumatic memories tend not to fade like more neutral or even happier memories do.

All this isn't to say that sometimes a person will recall something they hadn't thought about in a long, long time. This is a memory they've always had, though, not a new or 'recovered' one.

Using hypnosis to implant false memories

I taught in a hypnotherapy and psychotherapy diploma course at Brighton University for 10 years. I and the other teachers believed it was important to address the myths around memory early on.

We showed our students a video clip in which esteemed hypnosis researcher Dr Orne records a session with a young woman. He asks her whether she slept well the night before, and she says she did. He then hypnotizes her and suggests she was awoken in the night by the sound of an explosion "like a car backfiring". She accepts this suggestion.

Now he awakens her and again asks how she slept the night before. This time she tells him she remembers being woken up in the night by an explosion noise - "like a car backfiring."

When Dr Orne then plays her the tape of her earlier conviction (prior to his suggestions) that she had not been woken up, she is, understandably, quite confused.

Not everyone would have responded as she did, but it's clear that during hypnosis the mind can become even more suggestible and creative. And if a therapist doesn't (a) understand this when they use hypnosis and (b) understand how hypnosis can happen spontaneously quite outside of their control, then there is a risk that memories which did not exist before therapy may be manufactured by the therapy.

Hypnosis has so many life-enhancing benefits when it's used well. But it is not a truth serum, and it certainly isn't a reliable way to access so-called 'buried memories'.

So, memory is malleable. But memory also has two other features that you need to know about.

Using hypnosis to affect the physical

Memory is a hypnotic process. And in fact many hypnotherapists induce hypnosis in their clients simply by asking them to focus on a particular memory (a good one!). Recall is hypnotic because it has us focusing inward and perhaps even creating images in our minds.

But there's something else about memory and recall.

When we recall, especially during the powerful state of hypnosis, we do so not just with our minds but with our whole bodies.

If I recall a time I was very angry, my blood pressure may rise (people with chronic heart conditions are encouraged not to recall times when they were very angry) and I may begin to breathe quicker and feel hotter.

Harvard University professors found that, in healthy people, simply recalling a time when they were highly angry caused a six-hour dip in antibody immunoglobulin A, which is cells' first line against infection. 11

Recall is so hypnotic that it can cause physical changes.

But we can use this to our advantage.

The wonderful power of remembered wellness

Hypnotherapists often use hypnosis to revivify wonderful times from the past for people so they can take those feelings and experience them more in their present and future life.

The fact is we don't just remember with our minds, but with our bodies too.

If I recall reclining on a Caribbean beach my blood pressure may go down my hands and feet may feel warmer I may begin to produce more serotonin in my brain, making me feel better and so on.

Remembered wellness is a technique that uses the physical aspect of memory. 12 Starting to recall times you felt relaxed (and healthy and well if you are currently unwell), totally mentally and physically comfortable and happy, can start to influence the way you feel now and possibly even your physical health.

So, hypnosis should never been used to try to find out what did or didn't happen. Memories can be shaped, even created, through language, whether the therapist understands this or not, and memory is in itself an hypnotic experience that affects the whole body, not just the mind.

I'm happy to say that I have now genuinely been to San Francisco. Really, I have! I've looked out across the bay to Alcatraz for real. I've even visited the famous ex-prison itself. I have the pictures to prove it.


Probing Question: Does hypnosis work?

Most of us recognize these words as the Hollywood script of a hypnosis session. Typically portrayed as the tool of comics and hucksters ("At my command, you will crow like a rooster. ") or nefarious, mind-controlling villains, hypnosis has a serious type-casting problem to overcome.

Beyond the stereotypes, is there any validity to hypnosis as a therapeutic technique?

Hypnotherapy—or medical hypnosis—has a long history as a controversial treatment for physical and psychiatric ailments. Many leading medical figures since the 18th century (including Austrian physician Franz Mesmer, for whom the verb "mesmerize" was coined) experimented with putting patients into trance states for healing purposes. Determined to know whether this new medical treatment was genuine or a hoax, King Louis XVI of France commissioned a panel of experts, including Ambassador Benjamin Franklin, to investigate Mesmer's claims. In 1784, the "Franklin commission" released its report, which found "mesmerism" to be "utterly fallacious" and without merit.

"It has taken centuries for medical hypnosis to regain credibility," says Penn State psychology professor William Ray. "In the 1950s, reliable measures of hypnotizability were developed, which allowed this research field to gain validity. We've seen more than 12,000 articles on hypnosis published since then in medical and psychological journals. Today, there's general agreement that hypnosis can be an important part of treatment for some conditions, including phobias, addictions and chronic pain."

Ray's own research uses hypnosis as a tool to better understand the brain, including its response to pain. "We have done a variety of EEG studies," says Ray, "one of which suggests that hypnosis removes the emotional experience of pain while allowing the sensory sensation to remain. Thus, you notice you were touched but not that it hurt."

More recent research using modern brain imaging techniques show that the connections in the brain are different during hypnosis. In particular, those areas of the brain involved in making decisions and monitoring the environment show strong connections. What this means is that under hypnosis the person is able to focus on what they are doing without asking why they are doing it or checking the environment for changes.

Despite increasing recognition by the medical establishment, popular myths about hypnosis persist, such as the belief that it is a truth serum, that it causes subjects to lose all free will, and that hypnotists can erase their clients' memories of their sessions.

In truth, hypnosis is something most of us have experienced in our everyday lives. If you've ever been totally engrossed in a book or movie and lost all track of time or didn't hear someone calling your name, you were experiencing a state similar to a hypnotic one.

The hypnotized person is not sleeping or unconscious—quite the contrary. Hypnosis (most often induced by a hypnotherapist's verbal guidance, not a swinging pocket watch) creates a hyper-attentive and hyper-responsive mental state, in which the subject's subconscious mind is highly open to suggestion. "This doesn't mean you become a submissive robot when hypnotized," Ray asserts. "Studies have shown us that good hypnotic subjects are active problem solvers. While it's true that the subconscious mind is more open to suggestion during hypnosis, that doesn't mean that the subject's free will or moral judgment is turned off."

Are some people more easily hypnotized than others? "Yes, although the reason is not clearly understood," explains Ray. "Hypnotic responsiveness doesn't seem to correlate in expected ways with personality traits, such as gullibility, imagery ability or submissiveness. One link we've found is that people who become very engrossed in day-to-day activities—reading or music, for example—may be more easily hypnotized."

In the late 1950s, Stanford University was the first to establish a reliable "yardstick" of susceptibility (aptly called the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales). Through subsequent studies, researchers learned that 95 percent of people can be hypnotized to some extent (with most scoring in the midrange on the Stanford Scale) and that "an individual's score—reflecting the ability to respond to hypnosis—remains remarkably stable over time. Even twenty-five years after their initial Stanford Scale tests, retested subjects were getting almost the same scores, the same level of hypnotic responsiveness."

Understanding the exact mechanism behind hypnosis may require decoding the workings of the unconscious mind. While it may be near-impossible to arrive at that knowledge, hypnosis has come a long way since it was debunked by The Sun King's commission. Who knows? If he could review the case today, Benjamin Franklin might even be persuaded—("You're getting sleepy. Your eyelids are getting heavy. ")—to change his mind.

William Ray, Ph.D., professor of psychology, can be reached at [email protected]

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since its original publication in 2005.


Hypnosis: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Hypnosis is commonly used for birth preparation

"It is really amazing what people can do. Only they don't know what they can do."

Hypnosis. Trance. Mesmerism. Few people understand what hypnotic trance really means or how it works. But you can be one of the few!

To experience hypnosis you certainly don't have to understand it - just as flowers don't need to know the inner workings of photosynthesis in order to grow.

But once you come to know how trance works and the role it plays in producing emotional problems (which is why we also use it to help overcome them), you will start to understand yourself and other people so much better.

Hypnosis happens whether you understand it or not. Believe it or not, you were in deep trance even before you were born. You probably entered a trance today. And so did your dog!

Hypnosis is both natural and powerful

All mammals often enter a kind of trance in which they become more open to a certain kind of learning - which may help or hinder them. When a dog or cat locks their attention and produces instinctive responses to a given trigger, they are experiencing a form of trance. 1 That might not make much sense now, but by the end of the article you'll see what I mean.

My point is that hypnosis happens naturally. It's so much more than a controversial stage trick or a complementary therapy. Without understanding the central role that trance plays in human life, we can barely understand ourselves or other people at all.

What's more, we can use this amazing natural force to make incredible changes within ourselves. When we harness hypnosis it can take us to some wonderful places, like a strong gust of wind for a sailboat.

Hypnosis used well can help us heal faster, 2 leave depression behind, 3 and overcome physical afflictions 4 as well as emotional problems such as addictions. 5,6 It can lessen physical pain, 7 improve performance in sports, 8 and even strengthen our muscles 9 - all from our armchair!

So hypnosis is clearly amazing! But what exactly is it?

The mystery at your fingertips

Hypnosis isn't just a psychological experience and nor is it just a physical experience. It's both.

Every day, or, I should say, every night, you travel into the deepest of hypnotic trances. A trance in which your surroundings, even your everyday world, is forgotten. A state of mind in which you can do anything, from flying through the air on a magic carpet to communicating with phantasmagorical creatures.

I'm talking about dreams, of course.

We all spend at least 25% of our sleep time dreaming, whether we recall those dreams later on or not. Time spent dreaming is known as the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. We also call this stage 'paradoxical sleep', because your physiology and psychology are markedly different than in your non-dream sleep.

During REM sleep our attention is locked inward, onto the self-created realities of our deepest imagination.

And that's what hypnosis is all about.

How hypnosis works: The dream/REM connection

The deepest trance state you experience is when you are dreaming. You are completely immersed in a self-created imaginary reality with little or no awareness that it is not 'for real' - not unlike the deeply hypnotized stage subject.

Even though the word hypnosis comes from the Greek hypnos - the god of sleep - when we enter hypnosis, we are entering the REM state while awake. That's essentially what hypnosis is - accessing REM when not asleep.

Dreaming is an amazing demonstration of your brain's ability to simulate reality and a clear indicator of why hypnosis works. It is fairly common for a hypnotized subject to vividly experience an imagined reality - less so than in dreaming perhaps, but still in a state of complete absorption.

The rapid eye movement (REM) of dreaming is also often observed during hypnosis. This is the idea behind the traditional method of swinging of a watch in front of the subject's eyes to induce hypnosis - it causes side-to-side movement of the eyeballs, similar to REM.

Since dreaming is largely concerned with 'clearing' the brain of emotional arousal, it isn't hard to see how hypnosis can be good for helping people with emotional problems.

But there are still more similarities between induced hypnosis and the dream state.

How the 'hypnotized person as plank' trick works

Catalepsy is a natural part of hypnosis

A famous stage trick is to lie a hypnotized subject between two chairs and stand on their stomach. (Don't try this at home, by the way, it's really bad for your back!)

This is the sort of demonstration that has led to the idea that hypnosis is something strange. However, when we consider the link to the dream state, the reason this is possible becomes much clearer.

When you're dreaming, your ability to move is inhibited for obvious reasons - acting out your dreams would be highly dangerous for you (and especially for your sleeping partner!). If you are dreaming of being Superman on a summer's night on a room with an open window, you seriously do not want to actually try to fly! Although in the dream, your imagination makes it feel incredibly real.

This phenomenon of inhibited major muscle movement, known as 'catalepsy', also occurs during hypnosis. So already we can see close parallels between dream sleep and hypnosis:

  • Narrowed attention
  • Activation of inner focus and the imagination
  • Stillness of the major muscles (catalepsy)
  • Side-to-side movement of the eyeballs (sometimes, but not always, observed during hypnotic trance).

Use what nature has given you!

When we hypnotize a subject, we can often use these natural features of the REM state to help them.

For example, we can suggest catalepsy during hypnosis, where parts of the body can become immobile or self supported for long periods without discomfort. In some subjects, catalepsy can be easily produced hypnotically and then used for pain control or even hypnotic anaesthesia, whereby even major operations can be performed with only hypnosis as the anesthetic. 10

Really, hypnotic trance is a continuum. We can be really deeply hypnotized, or we can be in such a mild everyday trance that we wouldn't dream (no pun intended!) of calling it hypnotic. But for the skilled hypnotherapist, any level of trance can be harnessed to produce positive outcomes for the trance subject.

So what do I mean by 'everyday' trance?

Everyday trances

Have you ever 'zoned out' while driving? Your unconscious competence enables you to drive safely even while another part of your mind daydreams. You might arrive at your destination with barely any conscious memory of the journey you just took!

What about becoming deeply engrossed in a movie or a book? Two hours can fly by without you noticing. Try doing the same thing standing in the rain waiting for a bus! Your brain is clearly operating differently with respect to memory and time in these two situations.

As I'll explain in a moment, any strong emotion has hypnotic features, and we can't deeply learn - the sort of learning that changes emotional response and therefore behaviour - without a hypnotic focus gluing that learning in place.

During hypnotic trance we all become more suggestible, which sounds a bit like we turn into automatons to be programmed by the hypnotist, but that's not how it works.

When we're in trance we're more able to assess ideas for their merits and how they 'fit' with us, without the knee-jerk reactions of consciousness 'protecting' us from being changed by outside ideas. The calmness that comes with therapeutic hypnosis means new ways of approaching things can be appreciated and potentially integrated.

You've never dreamed more than you did in the womb

Third-trimester babies dream more than anyone!

The most REM you ever experienced happened not during dream sleep, but before you were even born - during the last three months of your gestation in the womb. 11 It seems that it's through this pre-birth REM that many of our 'hardwired' instincts are laid down, such as the 'startle response' to loud noises, fear of heights, and other survival instincts.

So the REM state, it appears, isn't just the state through which we dream at night but also the state in which we are programmed instinctively and emotionally.

This is why, when trying to change beliefs or thoughts consciously just doesn't seem to work so well, clinicians turn to hypnosis to help people overcome deeply programmed emotional problems.

Because, make no mistake, naturally occuring trance states can cause emotional problems - and this is vital to understand.

Negative self-hypnosis and emotional problems

We are only able to go into hypnosis because trance is part of our natural makeup as human beings. Without the ability to focus our attention narrowly, we wouldn't be able to concentrate, learn, remember, or form memories. Our potential for achievement would be very limited indeed.

But this ability to focus also gets us into trouble. When we narrow our focus and direct it inwards, we enter a kind of trance. Depressed people tend to spend a lot of time focusing inward. The more they worry (an inward focus characterized by the use of imagination), or 'ruminate', the more depressed they become. 12 Clearly this kind of trance does not help, especially if it is prolonged.

People who develop phobias become deeply transfixed - we might say entranced - by whatever it is that they are phobic of. It's as though no other parts of reality exist for them in the moment of their phobic response.

In fact, any strong emotion has a hypnotic effect on us.

Fear, anger, lust, love, and addiction - all leave us open to trance

Intense focus created by emotion is a trance state

Addicted people find it hard to break out of the trance of addiction, and may fail to think about or widen their focus.

People who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience spontaneous hypnotic regression back to an original trauma whenever some element in the environment acts as a kind of hypnotic cue for them to instantly change their state. Research has found a possible link between risk of long-lasting PTSD and natural hypnotizability. 13

Likewise, a chronically jealous person will be led around by their own uncontrolled imaginings, which to them feel real. And someone suffering obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can lose track of time and forget everything other than their obsessions and compulsions.

We can see that these conditions are not just about faulty thinking or 'cognitive errors' so much as naturally occuring hypnotic trance working against the person.

When we are very angry, we focus down on really narrow parts of reality and miss a wider view. What's more, we can find we instantly become angry just at the mention of the name of a person who made us angry - when this happens, their name is triggering what we call a 'post-hypnotic response'.

Using good trances to undo bad trances

Hypnosis is used for more than just solving problems

We use hypnosis to help people with emotional conditions because these conditions have core hypnotic aspects to them.

But when I first started using therapeutic hypnosis to help others what amazed me most was how many physical problems I could help people with, from high blood pressure 14 to chronic and acute pain, such as that of clients undergoing cancer treatment. 15 Hypnosis can even be used to improve the immune response. 16

But we don't just use hypnosis to overcome difficulties. I've worked with world-famous musicians, sportspeople, and artists to maximize their creative performance using hypnosis.

Hypnosis can help you be the best you can be.

Using hypnosis for success and happiness

Yes, we use hypnosis to help people overcome emotional difficulties. But we can also use it to help ourselves perform exceptionally, taking us closer to all kinds of success. We can use it to not just survive, but to thrive like never before.

We can first use it to help clear away the blockages to success, like excessive fear, self-doubt, self-consciousness, and shyness or emotional insecurity.

Then we can use it to help ourselves more often enter the optimal state of performance, sometimes called the state of flow or 'being in the zone'. During hypnosis it can be suggested that we engage in behaviors that will:

  • better meet our emotional needs,
  • take us toward our desired goals, and
  • help us more often experience the mind/body states that occur during successful activity.

Hypnosis isn't the same as relaxation, but we use relaxation as a comfortable medium through which to apply hypnosis.

During hypnosis we can rehearse new ways of feeling and behaving so that we have a kind of emotional blueprint for how to act and feel in ways that help us the most. Hypnosis can also be used to help people feel different physically, to access happier and healthier states.

Because hypnosis isn't just all in the mind or all in the body.

Hypnosis spans the psychological and the physical

Take sexual problems. They may be primarily a physical problem - or it may be that the person's psychology is influencing their physical response. More than likely it is a combination of both. Hypnosis tends to work by influencing the mind/body system rather than simply mind or body.

This is why the use of hypnosis has been shown to be effective in the treatment of psycho-physical problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. 17

But if you think about it, even if you simply use hypnosis to feel more confident, the effects will be felt physically as well as mentally. And I really believe that understanding how hypnosis locks attention can help us know ourselves better.

People who regularly use hypnosis can reap all kinds of benefits. But if you're new to healing or performance hypnosis, you might be wondering.

What does it feel like to be in a trance?

When people first experience purposefully induced hypnosis it sometimes feels different from what they expected. They may have assumed they would be totally unconscious, but in reality the conscious mind is still available to them. Rather, they have a parallel awareness.

It's a common misconception that trance is a state of unconsciousness like deep sleep.

Often people who have been formally hypnotized report feeling wonderful afterwards, or amazed by what they could experience. It feels natural and pleasant, especially if the person who facilitated their hypnotic session is really skilled.

Getting to know different parts of you

Hypnosis gives you access to different parts of your mind

In hypnosis you can be aware of your thoughts and surroundings and still be hypnotized. However, you may still be pleasantly surprised by an unconscious response, such as a 'hand levitation' or a pleasant memory springing to mind.

This is similar to the way in which we might be 'surprised' by a giggling fit or by pushing our foot down on an imaginary brake pedal when we are in the passenger seat and someone else is driving!

The conscious part of you simply observes the manifestations from your unconscious mind.

The conscious and unconscious minds are always working, even though we might not always be aware of how to properly harness the powerful forces of the unconscious mind.

When you start to see how hypnosis operates in your own life then start to use it in a directed fashion, you will begin to notice the benefits. From overcoming fears and old 'learned limitations' to controlling pain and creating more energy, hypnosis is a way to really thrive, develop, and enjoy your life.


Probing Question: Does hypnosis work?

Most of us recognize these words as the Hollywood script of a hypnosis session. Typically portrayed as the tool of comics and hucksters ("At my command, you will crow like a rooster. ") or nefarious, mind-controlling villains, hypnosis has a serious type-casting problem to overcome.

Beyond the stereotypes, is there any validity to hypnosis as a therapeutic technique?

Hypnotherapy—or medical hypnosis—has a long history as a controversial treatment for physical and psychiatric ailments. Many leading medical figures since the 18th century (including Austrian physician Franz Mesmer, for whom the verb "mesmerize" was coined) experimented with putting patients into trance states for healing purposes. Determined to know whether this new medical treatment was genuine or a hoax, King Louis XVI of France commissioned a panel of experts, including Ambassador Benjamin Franklin, to investigate Mesmer's claims. In 1784, the "Franklin commission" released its report, which found "mesmerism" to be "utterly fallacious" and without merit.

"It has taken centuries for medical hypnosis to regain credibility," says Penn State psychology professor William Ray. "In the 1950s, reliable measures of hypnotizability were developed, which allowed this research field to gain validity. We've seen more than 12,000 articles on hypnosis published since then in medical and psychological journals. Today, there's general agreement that hypnosis can be an important part of treatment for some conditions, including phobias, addictions and chronic pain."

Ray's own research uses hypnosis as a tool to better understand the brain, including its response to pain. "We have done a variety of EEG studies," says Ray, "one of which suggests that hypnosis removes the emotional experience of pain while allowing the sensory sensation to remain. Thus, you notice you were touched but not that it hurt."

More recent research using modern brain imaging techniques show that the connections in the brain are different during hypnosis. In particular, those areas of the brain involved in making decisions and monitoring the environment show strong connections. What this means is that under hypnosis the person is able to focus on what they are doing without asking why they are doing it or checking the environment for changes.

Despite increasing recognition by the medical establishment, popular myths about hypnosis persist, such as the belief that it is a truth serum, that it causes subjects to lose all free will, and that hypnotists can erase their clients' memories of their sessions.

In truth, hypnosis is something most of us have experienced in our everyday lives. If you've ever been totally engrossed in a book or movie and lost all track of time or didn't hear someone calling your name, you were experiencing a state similar to a hypnotic one.

The hypnotized person is not sleeping or unconscious—quite the contrary. Hypnosis (most often induced by a hypnotherapist's verbal guidance, not a swinging pocket watch) creates a hyper-attentive and hyper-responsive mental state, in which the subject's subconscious mind is highly open to suggestion. "This doesn't mean you become a submissive robot when hypnotized," Ray asserts. "Studies have shown us that good hypnotic subjects are active problem solvers. While it's true that the subconscious mind is more open to suggestion during hypnosis, that doesn't mean that the subject's free will or moral judgment is turned off."

Are some people more easily hypnotized than others? "Yes, although the reason is not clearly understood," explains Ray. "Hypnotic responsiveness doesn't seem to correlate in expected ways with personality traits, such as gullibility, imagery ability or submissiveness. One link we've found is that people who become very engrossed in day-to-day activities—reading or music, for example—may be more easily hypnotized."

In the late 1950s, Stanford University was the first to establish a reliable "yardstick" of susceptibility (aptly called the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales). Through subsequent studies, researchers learned that 95 percent of people can be hypnotized to some extent (with most scoring in the midrange on the Stanford Scale) and that "an individual's score—reflecting the ability to respond to hypnosis—remains remarkably stable over time. Even twenty-five years after their initial Stanford Scale tests, retested subjects were getting almost the same scores, the same level of hypnotic responsiveness."

Understanding the exact mechanism behind hypnosis may require decoding the workings of the unconscious mind. While it may be near-impossible to arrive at that knowledge, hypnosis has come a long way since it was debunked by The Sun King's commission. Who knows? If he could review the case today, Benjamin Franklin might even be persuaded—("You're getting sleepy. Your eyelids are getting heavy. ")—to change his mind.

William Ray, Ph.D., professor of psychology, can be reached at [email protected]

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since its original publication in 2005.


Hypnosis: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Hypnosis is commonly used for birth preparation

"It is really amazing what people can do. Only they don't know what they can do."

Hypnosis. Trance. Mesmerism. Few people understand what hypnotic trance really means or how it works. But you can be one of the few!

To experience hypnosis you certainly don't have to understand it - just as flowers don't need to know the inner workings of photosynthesis in order to grow.

But once you come to know how trance works and the role it plays in producing emotional problems (which is why we also use it to help overcome them), you will start to understand yourself and other people so much better.

Hypnosis happens whether you understand it or not. Believe it or not, you were in deep trance even before you were born. You probably entered a trance today. And so did your dog!

Hypnosis is both natural and powerful

All mammals often enter a kind of trance in which they become more open to a certain kind of learning - which may help or hinder them. When a dog or cat locks their attention and produces instinctive responses to a given trigger, they are experiencing a form of trance. 1 That might not make much sense now, but by the end of the article you'll see what I mean.

My point is that hypnosis happens naturally. It's so much more than a controversial stage trick or a complementary therapy. Without understanding the central role that trance plays in human life, we can barely understand ourselves or other people at all.

What's more, we can use this amazing natural force to make incredible changes within ourselves. When we harness hypnosis it can take us to some wonderful places, like a strong gust of wind for a sailboat.

Hypnosis used well can help us heal faster, 2 leave depression behind, 3 and overcome physical afflictions 4 as well as emotional problems such as addictions. 5,6 It can lessen physical pain, 7 improve performance in sports, 8 and even strengthen our muscles 9 - all from our armchair!

So hypnosis is clearly amazing! But what exactly is it?

The mystery at your fingertips

Hypnosis isn't just a psychological experience and nor is it just a physical experience. It's both.

Every day, or, I should say, every night, you travel into the deepest of hypnotic trances. A trance in which your surroundings, even your everyday world, is forgotten. A state of mind in which you can do anything, from flying through the air on a magic carpet to communicating with phantasmagorical creatures.

I'm talking about dreams, of course.

We all spend at least 25% of our sleep time dreaming, whether we recall those dreams later on or not. Time spent dreaming is known as the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep. We also call this stage 'paradoxical sleep', because your physiology and psychology are markedly different than in your non-dream sleep.

During REM sleep our attention is locked inward, onto the self-created realities of our deepest imagination.

And that's what hypnosis is all about.

How hypnosis works: The dream/REM connection

The deepest trance state you experience is when you are dreaming. You are completely immersed in a self-created imaginary reality with little or no awareness that it is not 'for real' - not unlike the deeply hypnotized stage subject.

Even though the word hypnosis comes from the Greek hypnos - the god of sleep - when we enter hypnosis, we are entering the REM state while awake. That's essentially what hypnosis is - accessing REM when not asleep.

Dreaming is an amazing demonstration of your brain's ability to simulate reality and a clear indicator of why hypnosis works. It is fairly common for a hypnotized subject to vividly experience an imagined reality - less so than in dreaming perhaps, but still in a state of complete absorption.

The rapid eye movement (REM) of dreaming is also often observed during hypnosis. This is the idea behind the traditional method of swinging of a watch in front of the subject's eyes to induce hypnosis - it causes side-to-side movement of the eyeballs, similar to REM.

Since dreaming is largely concerned with 'clearing' the brain of emotional arousal, it isn't hard to see how hypnosis can be good for helping people with emotional problems.

But there are still more similarities between induced hypnosis and the dream state.

How the 'hypnotized person as plank' trick works

Catalepsy is a natural part of hypnosis

A famous stage trick is to lie a hypnotized subject between two chairs and stand on their stomach. (Don't try this at home, by the way, it's really bad for your back!)

This is the sort of demonstration that has led to the idea that hypnosis is something strange. However, when we consider the link to the dream state, the reason this is possible becomes much clearer.

When you're dreaming, your ability to move is inhibited for obvious reasons - acting out your dreams would be highly dangerous for you (and especially for your sleeping partner!). If you are dreaming of being Superman on a summer's night on a room with an open window, you seriously do not want to actually try to fly! Although in the dream, your imagination makes it feel incredibly real.

This phenomenon of inhibited major muscle movement, known as 'catalepsy', also occurs during hypnosis. So already we can see close parallels between dream sleep and hypnosis:

  • Narrowed attention
  • Activation of inner focus and the imagination
  • Stillness of the major muscles (catalepsy)
  • Side-to-side movement of the eyeballs (sometimes, but not always, observed during hypnotic trance).

Use what nature has given you!

When we hypnotize a subject, we can often use these natural features of the REM state to help them.

For example, we can suggest catalepsy during hypnosis, where parts of the body can become immobile or self supported for long periods without discomfort. In some subjects, catalepsy can be easily produced hypnotically and then used for pain control or even hypnotic anaesthesia, whereby even major operations can be performed with only hypnosis as the anesthetic. 10

Really, hypnotic trance is a continuum. We can be really deeply hypnotized, or we can be in such a mild everyday trance that we wouldn't dream (no pun intended!) of calling it hypnotic. But for the skilled hypnotherapist, any level of trance can be harnessed to produce positive outcomes for the trance subject.

So what do I mean by 'everyday' trance?

Everyday trances

Have you ever 'zoned out' while driving? Your unconscious competence enables you to drive safely even while another part of your mind daydreams. You might arrive at your destination with barely any conscious memory of the journey you just took!

What about becoming deeply engrossed in a movie or a book? Two hours can fly by without you noticing. Try doing the same thing standing in the rain waiting for a bus! Your brain is clearly operating differently with respect to memory and time in these two situations.

As I'll explain in a moment, any strong emotion has hypnotic features, and we can't deeply learn - the sort of learning that changes emotional response and therefore behaviour - without a hypnotic focus gluing that learning in place.

During hypnotic trance we all become more suggestible, which sounds a bit like we turn into automatons to be programmed by the hypnotist, but that's not how it works.

When we're in trance we're more able to assess ideas for their merits and how they 'fit' with us, without the knee-jerk reactions of consciousness 'protecting' us from being changed by outside ideas. The calmness that comes with therapeutic hypnosis means new ways of approaching things can be appreciated and potentially integrated.

You've never dreamed more than you did in the womb

Third-trimester babies dream more than anyone!

The most REM you ever experienced happened not during dream sleep, but before you were even born - during the last three months of your gestation in the womb. 11 It seems that it's through this pre-birth REM that many of our 'hardwired' instincts are laid down, such as the 'startle response' to loud noises, fear of heights, and other survival instincts.

So the REM state, it appears, isn't just the state through which we dream at night but also the state in which we are programmed instinctively and emotionally.

This is why, when trying to change beliefs or thoughts consciously just doesn't seem to work so well, clinicians turn to hypnosis to help people overcome deeply programmed emotional problems.

Because, make no mistake, naturally occuring trance states can cause emotional problems - and this is vital to understand.

Negative self-hypnosis and emotional problems

We are only able to go into hypnosis because trance is part of our natural makeup as human beings. Without the ability to focus our attention narrowly, we wouldn't be able to concentrate, learn, remember, or form memories. Our potential for achievement would be very limited indeed.

But this ability to focus also gets us into trouble. When we narrow our focus and direct it inwards, we enter a kind of trance. Depressed people tend to spend a lot of time focusing inward. The more they worry (an inward focus characterized by the use of imagination), or 'ruminate', the more depressed they become. 12 Clearly this kind of trance does not help, especially if it is prolonged.

People who develop phobias become deeply transfixed - we might say entranced - by whatever it is that they are phobic of. It's as though no other parts of reality exist for them in the moment of their phobic response.

In fact, any strong emotion has a hypnotic effect on us.

Fear, anger, lust, love, and addiction - all leave us open to trance

Intense focus created by emotion is a trance state

Addicted people find it hard to break out of the trance of addiction, and may fail to think about or widen their focus.

People who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience spontaneous hypnotic regression back to an original trauma whenever some element in the environment acts as a kind of hypnotic cue for them to instantly change their state. Research has found a possible link between risk of long-lasting PTSD and natural hypnotizability. 13

Likewise, a chronically jealous person will be led around by their own uncontrolled imaginings, which to them feel real. And someone suffering obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can lose track of time and forget everything other than their obsessions and compulsions.

We can see that these conditions are not just about faulty thinking or 'cognitive errors' so much as naturally occuring hypnotic trance working against the person.

When we are very angry, we focus down on really narrow parts of reality and miss a wider view. What's more, we can find we instantly become angry just at the mention of the name of a person who made us angry - when this happens, their name is triggering what we call a 'post-hypnotic response'.

Using good trances to undo bad trances

Hypnosis is used for more than just solving problems

We use hypnosis to help people with emotional conditions because these conditions have core hypnotic aspects to them.

But when I first started using therapeutic hypnosis to help others what amazed me most was how many physical problems I could help people with, from high blood pressure 14 to chronic and acute pain, such as that of clients undergoing cancer treatment. 15 Hypnosis can even be used to improve the immune response. 16

But we don't just use hypnosis to overcome difficulties. I've worked with world-famous musicians, sportspeople, and artists to maximize their creative performance using hypnosis.

Hypnosis can help you be the best you can be.

Using hypnosis for success and happiness

Yes, we use hypnosis to help people overcome emotional difficulties. But we can also use it to help ourselves perform exceptionally, taking us closer to all kinds of success. We can use it to not just survive, but to thrive like never before.

We can first use it to help clear away the blockages to success, like excessive fear, self-doubt, self-consciousness, and shyness or emotional insecurity.

Then we can use it to help ourselves more often enter the optimal state of performance, sometimes called the state of flow or 'being in the zone'. During hypnosis it can be suggested that we engage in behaviors that will:

  • better meet our emotional needs,
  • take us toward our desired goals, and
  • help us more often experience the mind/body states that occur during successful activity.

Hypnosis isn't the same as relaxation, but we use relaxation as a comfortable medium through which to apply hypnosis.

During hypnosis we can rehearse new ways of feeling and behaving so that we have a kind of emotional blueprint for how to act and feel in ways that help us the most. Hypnosis can also be used to help people feel different physically, to access happier and healthier states.

Because hypnosis isn't just all in the mind or all in the body.

Hypnosis spans the psychological and the physical

Take sexual problems. They may be primarily a physical problem - or it may be that the person's psychology is influencing their physical response. More than likely it is a combination of both. Hypnosis tends to work by influencing the mind/body system rather than simply mind or body.

This is why the use of hypnosis has been shown to be effective in the treatment of psycho-physical problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. 17

But if you think about it, even if you simply use hypnosis to feel more confident, the effects will be felt physically as well as mentally. And I really believe that understanding how hypnosis locks attention can help us know ourselves better.

People who regularly use hypnosis can reap all kinds of benefits. But if you're new to healing or performance hypnosis, you might be wondering.

What does it feel like to be in a trance?

When people first experience purposefully induced hypnosis it sometimes feels different from what they expected. They may have assumed they would be totally unconscious, but in reality the conscious mind is still available to them. Rather, they have a parallel awareness.

It's a common misconception that trance is a state of unconsciousness like deep sleep.

Often people who have been formally hypnotized report feeling wonderful afterwards, or amazed by what they could experience. It feels natural and pleasant, especially if the person who facilitated their hypnotic session is really skilled.

Getting to know different parts of you

Hypnosis gives you access to different parts of your mind

In hypnosis you can be aware of your thoughts and surroundings and still be hypnotized. However, you may still be pleasantly surprised by an unconscious response, such as a 'hand levitation' or a pleasant memory springing to mind.

This is similar to the way in which we might be 'surprised' by a giggling fit or by pushing our foot down on an imaginary brake pedal when we are in the passenger seat and someone else is driving!

The conscious part of you simply observes the manifestations from your unconscious mind.

The conscious and unconscious minds are always working, even though we might not always be aware of how to properly harness the powerful forces of the unconscious mind.

When you start to see how hypnosis operates in your own life then start to use it in a directed fashion, you will begin to notice the benefits. From overcoming fears and old 'learned limitations' to controlling pain and creating more energy, hypnosis is a way to really thrive, develop, and enjoy your life.


Wanna Control People? Try These Hypnosis Mind Control Techniques

Hypnosis mind control techniques are used to control the minds of other people and make them follow your orders. The following article will discuss some of these techniques, that will help you understand more about this subject.

Hypnosis mind control techniques are used to control the minds of other people and make them follow your orders. The following article will discuss some of these techniques, that will help you understand more about this subject.

You may have heard of many hypnosis techniques that help you hijack the conscious mind of the person under your control and make him/her do whatever you want. There are many stories about this technique that show that people did things they shouldn’t have and have no memory of it. Putting someone under a trance and leading him/her to do things you want is mind control. The most famous example of this is the story of Candy Jones, a famous model and pin-up girl of the 1940s and 50s. She claimed that she was a victim of mind control techniques of the CIA under the Project MKULTRA of the 1960s.

Hypnosis Mind Control

Hypnosis is not just a glam trick of magicians and showmen. It is a very useful medical treatment that helps many people suffering from various addictions get rid of it. It also helps people overcome their bad habits and forget about some of their psychological fears. This technique has been used on patients suffering from immense pain due to cancer, grievous accidents, and burn victims to control the pain and reduce the intensity of the discomfort. It has been found by a study conducted by International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis that it reduces the feeling of pain by 75%.

Psychologists even use this technique to help people overcome their food cravings and lose weight easily. Pregnant women also undergo hypnosis to help them overcome labor pain and deliver the baby with ease. These were some of the medical uses of this technique, but there are a few speculative uses of it too.

It is used by many skilled hypnotics to persuade people to do something they don’t even realize they are doing. The person becomes a total zombie following only the voice that controls it. There are many stories you may come across in papers, magazines, and all over the Internet where people used hypnosis as a tool to make someone sign the papers to a property, made the cashier in the bank hand over the cash without much resistance, or kidnappers hypnotizing children and taking them away. There are even grave stories where one was sexually abused under hypnosis or even made to murder someone.

This shows that hypnosis is a two-edged sword that can be useful and dangerous at the same time. But, can you use this technique in your daily lives to get what you want? Can you persuade your boss to let you go home early everyday or convince your teenage son to concentrate on studies. Well, the art of persuasion, also known as mind control, can be commonly used to get away with minor things in life.

Simple Mind Control Techniques

You carry out hypnosis everyday without even realizing you’re doing it. This happens when you like a person and you tend to follow them. So, if your best friend asks you to go out for a movie when you are supposed to sit down to study for the test next day, you follow your best friend to the movie theater without much delay. If someone likes you, he/she may follow all your wimps and fancies just to please you. Thus, you will notice that a number of times you said “yes” to something when someone you like or are attracted to asked you for a favor.

But what about someone who is a total stranger, like a salesman or prospective client? In this case, you need to follow the mind control techniques of mirroring people’s behavior. The answer lies in observing the person carefully and catching some repetitive actions or words that he/she uses. You need to use the same words or actions while interacting with that person, and he/she will soon realize the similarities and develop a rapport with you.

Mind Control through Stories

You may have observed that people get engrossed when reading an interesting story or watching movies and try to enact the character that created the biggest impact in their mind. So, weave some short anecdotes in your conversations everyday that will help you control the mind of the other person. You can even use negative sentences to make a person do something you want to. This is just like reverse psychology. Tell the person that he/she doesn’t need to do the thing right now and the person will do what you want immediately.

It is very important to use your words carefully though, as people immediately imagine an image of the action you ask them to do. When you ask the person not to drop the glass case, he imagines the glass case falling and maybe even drop it. But if you ask the person to safely transport the glass case, chances are that he/she will just be more careful.

These were just a few techniques that you may try. Hypnotism is an art that one learns after years of practice. When you make someone go under a trance, it is very important to know how to have the person come out of it without any ill consequences. Many hypnotics use a clap, click, or a word to make a person undergo a trance or come out of deep sleep. You are playing with the subconscious mind and making it more alert than the conscious mind with hypnosis.

You never know what the person has stored in his/her subconscious mind that may prove to be harmful for both you and the person. So be very careful before trying out these techniques. But, you can always use the more simple mind control techniques in your everyday life and get a good bargain from the salesman or make your husband come home early everyday. Just make sure you don’t get hypnotized by the attractive person opposite to you in the bar.


No cure-all

People vary widely in their ability to respond to hypnotic suggestions, a trait which can be measured by standardized scales. But it isn’t well understood what causes the varying levels of "hypnotizability" or their significance.

Yapko says few clinicians use hypnotizability scales because responses to a structured test don’t predict how a patient will respond to hypnosis in treatment. He served as guest editor for a recent special issue of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (Vol. 58, No. 2) that examined research on hypnosis and depression. In an editorial, Yapko urged more research and a rejection of outdated views that hypnosis can precipitate suicide or psychosis in depressed patients. Other articles examined how hypnosis can be integrated with cognitive-behavioral therapy or used with depressed patients and their families.

Willmarth says he doesn’t always use hypnotizibility scales with his patients, but will try a hypnosis session and measure the patient’s response to see if it is effective. "You have to be a little bit willing to fail in order to do it often enough to succeed," he says.

Hypnosis may not succeed in all cases and can actually be detrimental in some instances, especially in the realm of retrieving memories.

Joseph P. Green, PhD, a psychology professor at Ohio State University at Lima, has researched how hypnotic suggestions can produce distorted or false memories. He also found that people may believe hypnotically induced memories are more reliable, mirroring a mistaken cultural belief that hypnosis acts like a truth serum. Hypnosis is "on thin ice" when used to recover memories, as is the case with most other memory retrieval techniques, Green says.

Hypnosis got a bad name in the 1990s when some therapists convinced patients they had been molested or abused as children because of hypnotically induced memories, which often had no evidence to support them. As a result, many innocent people were wrongly accused of abuse in hundreds of court cases, Yapko says.

"People didn’t really understand the suggestibility of memory," he says. "That whole issue has pretty much fallen by the wayside now" because of advances in research.

In a 2007 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada established a precedent that post-hypnosis evidence is inadmissible in court because of its unreliability. In R. v. Trochym, the court overturned a murder conviction after a witness changed her timeline of events following a hypnosis session that was requested by detectives. The jury wasn’t told that the witness had been hypnotized or that she had changed her recollection.

"In sum, while it is not generally accepted that hypnosis always produces unreliable memories, neither is it clear when hypnosis results in pseudo-memories or how a witness, scientist or trier of fact might distinguish between fabricated and accurate memories," the decision stated.


Arm-Pull Induction

As a note to beginners, I intentionally do not give you any words that one would give a person under trance for good reason. It is up to your discretion on what you want to command a person to do. Just remember that if it is something you wouldn&apost do, they likely wouldn&apost do it either.

Hypnosis can be used in social situations as long as the person doing the hypnotic induction has the proper training. Don&apost trust any stranger you meet! Some people use hypnosis secretly to get someone to do what they want or for harmful intentions—like mind control. Remember: Use these techniques responsibly and only after you have been trained properly. Here&aposs how to use hypnosis with safety in mind:

  • Always make sure that your subject is consenting.
  • Always make sure that your subject will be supported and physically safe when they are in a trance state. It is your responsibility to supervise them until they return to consciousness.
  • Never use hypnosis to maliciously manipulate friends and strangers—this comes with major consequences.
  • Never use hypnosis to get someone to do something against their will.
  • Never use hypnosis on a minor.
  • Always act professionally some stage or street performers may want to consider having insurance for legal protection.

Advertisers have used knowledge of hypnosis and trance-like induction to their advantage for decades.


Q: Is hypnosis dangerous?

A: Hypnosis is not in itself a dangerous procedure, but there are concerns that if it is not used properly then it could lead to negative reactions. The risks associated with hypnosis (for example, participants very occasionally experience a mild headache) have been shown not to differ from those associated with attending a university lecture (Lynn, 2000).
Complications may occur due to faulty technique on the part of the hypnotist or because of misconceptions on the part of the subject regarding hypnosis. For a fuller discussion on the potential dangers of hypnosis read this section of Campbell Perry's discussion of hypnosis on the False Memory Syndrome's website.


How to Find a Hypnotherapist

If you want to try hypnosis to help you quit smoking, ask your health care provider to recommend a good hypnotherapist.

Here are some tips when looking for a qualified hypnotherapist:

  • Make sure they are licensed, trained, and credentialed. Hypnosis for smoking cessation and other medical or behavioral reasons should only be done by someone who has a current license in a health care field, such as medicine, psychiatry, psychology, or nursing.
  • Ask some tough questions. Ask about their professional training. The American Society for Clinical Hypnosis also suggests asking: “Is this practitioner able to help me without using hypnosis?" If the answer is no, you should look elsewhere.
  • Beware of too-good-to-be true claims or guarantees. Hypnosis does not work for everyone.

Remember, it's never too late to quit smoking. Doing so has immediate health benefits. And, if you quit smoking before you turn 50, you'll cut the risk of dying in the next 15 years in half, compared to those who keep lighting up.

Sources

American Cancer Society: "Guide to Quitting Smoking."

National Cancer Institute, "Quitting Smoking: Why to Quit and Where to Get Help."

American Society of Clinical Hypnosis: "Facts About Hypnosis: What is Clinical Hypnosis?"

Barnes, J. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010 Oct 6.


1. Induction Process – Hypnotizing Your First Subject With The ABS Formula

In order to put someone into a hypnotic trance, you have to be able to do 3 things:

  • Get their attention
  • Bypass their conscious mind
  • Tap into their unconscious mind

Do those 3 things, and your subject will enter a hypnotic trance. And then once you’ve got them in a hypnotic trance – you can begin the change work process, for example, by giving hypnotic suggestions.

When starting out, one of the easiest ways you can achieve this is by using the ABS Formula. So let’s break the ABS formula down into its constituent parts to see how it works:


The Truth About Hypnosis and Memory

I had a memory of visiting Alcatraz as a child. It turned out it was a false memory

I've always been sceptical of the idea of 'repressed' or 'recovered' memories, partly due to a story of my own which I'll tell you in a moment.

Some people think hypnosis can be used to 'find out what happened' in a person's past when they don't already know.

There are three assumptions here:

  1. That hypnosis is a reliable way of accessing memories you don't currently have
  2. That 'repressed' memories are common
  3. That 'uncovering' what happened somehow cures the problem.

Before we get going, in case you don't read any further, let me tell you this: I think you should steer clear of any therapist who claims they can help you by 'uncovering' memories.

Why? Because they are working from an outmoded, unscientific, and potentially very dangerous false premise.

But let's start with that true, but false, story of mine.

My golden memory

I had a memory of something that never was.

My memory seemed real. Had I been pressed, even in a court of law, I would have sworn it was true.

I had a clear snapshot memory of being 14, on holiday with my parents in San Francisco. In my mind I was standing on the Golden Gate Bridge, looking out over the bay at the infamous island jail of Alcatraz.

I told people for years I'd been to San Fran. Only I hadn't. I wasn't lying - just mistaken.

I happened to mention this memory to my mother 20 years after the (non-)event. She looked at me curiously and said, "We went to LA and San Diego, but we never went to San Francisco. What are you talking about?" Not satisfied, I sought backup from my dad and sister - who both confirmed we hadn't gone to San Fran!

Was I crazy? I remembered it. didn't I?

Implanted memories are not just science fiction

Fortunately, lots of good research on the unreliability of memory has been done, 1 which makes me feel somewhat less weird about my own self-created memory.

In a now famous study that became known as the 'Lost in The Mall Experiment', it was found that memories of an experience which never took place, namely, being lost in a shopping mall, could be implanted in the minds of young children. 2 What's more, the memory could be long lasting.

I even found a video on Youtube in which the subject of such an experiment describes a vivid memory of being lost in a shopping mall, which, as we know, never happened. The researchers managed to 'implant' this memory by having Chris' family write journal entries in which they described this event alongside other, real events, then having Chris read these journals.

So what made people conduct this seemingly strange research? Well, it was done because something really worrying had started to happen.

Ignorant therapeutic practice can ruin lives

The 1990s saw a growing mania in therapy to 'recover' memories, and many lawsuits stemming from the resulting accusations. 3,4,5 Therapists who assumed that present-day emotional difficulties could only signify suppressed past childhood abuse would sometimes lead their clients with assumptive language, eventually leading the client to also assume they had suffered past abuse. Past abuse which may never have happened.

People tend to recall most of what happened to them, especially if it was awful as what I describe in this piece.

There is little evidence that people repress or 'bury' terrible memories, nor that 'recovering' them will magically solve current problems. 6 Alarmingly, a 2007 study found that when clients suddenly recalled previously non-existent memories during therapy, the account was less likely to have any corroborating evidence than if the memories had been recalled without any 'help'. 7

But I want to make one thing clear.

If a person has always had a memory, there is little reason to doubt them

We should always assume that people who recall terrible things happening to them, when they've always had those memories, aren't mistaken. But we should be wary of memories that never existed before 'coming up' during psychotherapy, especially when there is no corroborating evidence.

A therapist needs to understand how memory works in the mind but also how language can shape both expectation and experience. It's amazing how even the subtlest nuances of language can mould memory, as this next example clearly shows.

Was it a smash, or a bump? How language shapes memory

Researcher Elizabeth Loftus found that language can shape memory. 8 In her experiments, subjects were shown films of motor vehicle accidents then asked to answer questions about them.

Questions such as "How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?" resulted in research subjects overestimating the speed at which the vehicles had been travelling compared with when words like bumped or collided were used.

When retested a week later, participants were asked "Did you see the broken glass?" Those who had been exposed to the word smashed were much more likely to say "yes" even though there had been no broken glass.

Language can shape experience and also create, or at least greatly mould, memory. Therapists, particularly those who have been trained in the 'recovered memory' ideology, may ask leading questions or use unwitting presuppositions. They may use words like 'uncomfortable', 'painful', or even 'traumatic' when the client hasn't used these words.

Using hypnosis to try to 'uncover' memories is even more dangerous because of the creativity and suggestibility that occur during the hypnotic trance state.

And that goes double for traumatic memories.

Why post-traumatic stress disorder is not a condition of memory suppression

If you go along to a practitioner for help dealing with a painful memory you have always had, that's one thing. But going along because they have offered to help you 'find out why' you have difficulties is another.

We evolved to recall painful memories in order to avoid such situations in the future. This isn't to say that suppression of painful memories is impossible, or that something terrible didn't happen to someone when they were so young they hadn't yet started forming memories, 9 or that we can't fail to lay down memories when we are extremely drunk. 10 But it is to say that post-traumatic stress disorder is not a condition of memory suppression. It's a condition of too much and too vivid recall, in which the past feels present.

When we are traumatized, the stress we experience can be so extreme that the memory is laid down in the amygdala, the part of the brain that produces the fight-or-flight or terror response. What's more, it stays 'locked' in this part of the brain (instead of the parts that house less-emotional memories) as a survival pattern, ready to reactivate at even the faintest reminder of the original, triggering incident.

The problem isn't one of too little or no memory, but of too much, too often. In fact, traumatic memory can feel so strong it's almost like a regression back to the original trauma.

I recall working with a survivor of World War II who wanted help processing a traumatic memory of an horrific military experience that had plagued him for 50 years. Whenever he spontaneously recalled it, he said, it felt like he was "right back there," "reliving" it. Traumatic memories tend not to fade like more neutral or even happier memories do.

All this isn't to say that sometimes a person will recall something they hadn't thought about in a long, long time. This is a memory they've always had, though, not a new or 'recovered' one.

Using hypnosis to implant false memories

I taught in a hypnotherapy and psychotherapy diploma course at Brighton University for 10 years. I and the other teachers believed it was important to address the myths around memory early on.

We showed our students a video clip in which esteemed hypnosis researcher Dr Orne records a session with a young woman. He asks her whether she slept well the night before, and she says she did. He then hypnotizes her and suggests she was awoken in the night by the sound of an explosion "like a car backfiring". She accepts this suggestion.

Now he awakens her and again asks how she slept the night before. This time she tells him she remembers being woken up in the night by an explosion noise - "like a car backfiring."

When Dr Orne then plays her the tape of her earlier conviction (prior to his suggestions) that she had not been woken up, she is, understandably, quite confused.

Not everyone would have responded as she did, but it's clear that during hypnosis the mind can become even more suggestible and creative. And if a therapist doesn't (a) understand this when they use hypnosis and (b) understand how hypnosis can happen spontaneously quite outside of their control, then there is a risk that memories which did not exist before therapy may be manufactured by the therapy.

Hypnosis has so many life-enhancing benefits when it's used well. But it is not a truth serum, and it certainly isn't a reliable way to access so-called 'buried memories'.

So, memory is malleable. But memory also has two other features that you need to know about.

Using hypnosis to affect the physical

Memory is a hypnotic process. And in fact many hypnotherapists induce hypnosis in their clients simply by asking them to focus on a particular memory (a good one!). Recall is hypnotic because it has us focusing inward and perhaps even creating images in our minds.

But there's something else about memory and recall.

When we recall, especially during the powerful state of hypnosis, we do so not just with our minds but with our whole bodies.

If I recall a time I was very angry, my blood pressure may rise (people with chronic heart conditions are encouraged not to recall times when they were very angry) and I may begin to breathe quicker and feel hotter.

Harvard University professors found that, in healthy people, simply recalling a time when they were highly angry caused a six-hour dip in antibody immunoglobulin A, which is cells' first line against infection. 11

Recall is so hypnotic that it can cause physical changes.

But we can use this to our advantage.

The wonderful power of remembered wellness

Hypnotherapists often use hypnosis to revivify wonderful times from the past for people so they can take those feelings and experience them more in their present and future life.

The fact is we don't just remember with our minds, but with our bodies too.

If I recall reclining on a Caribbean beach my blood pressure may go down my hands and feet may feel warmer I may begin to produce more serotonin in my brain, making me feel better and so on.

Remembered wellness is a technique that uses the physical aspect of memory. 12 Starting to recall times you felt relaxed (and healthy and well if you are currently unwell), totally mentally and physically comfortable and happy, can start to influence the way you feel now and possibly even your physical health.

So, hypnosis should never been used to try to find out what did or didn't happen. Memories can be shaped, even created, through language, whether the therapist understands this or not, and memory is in itself an hypnotic experience that affects the whole body, not just the mind.

I'm happy to say that I have now genuinely been to San Francisco. Really, I have! I've looked out across the bay to Alcatraz for real. I've even visited the famous ex-prison itself. I have the pictures to prove it.



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